Mark Murphy’s Approach Mark Murphy’s Approach Which Of These 4 Leadership Styles Are You? Whats your leadership style? You have a particular style, of course, but do you know what it is and how it compares to the styles of other leaders? Over the past two decades of studying leaders, my team and I have found that there are really four fundamental leadership styles: Pragmatist, Idealist, Steward and Diplomat. Leaders can be effective or ineffective within each of these four styles, and there are a million subtle variations, but these four styles give us a way to pinpoint some major philosophical differences between leaders. One major philosophical difference that separates the four leadership styles is the extent to which leaders are directive or open. For example, do your like your employees to complete their tasks the way you prefer them to do it? Or, do you let your employees complete tasks the way they want to do it? Another major philosophical difference is the extent to which leaders are collaborative or competitive. For example, is it important for you to genuinely like the people on your team? Or do you not care about that, as long as your people are smart and perform well? Of course, theres a lot more to the four leadership styles than just these two philosophical differences. But as a starting point, these are emblematic of the myriad ways that leaders see the world. The Pragmatist Pragmatists have high standards, and they expect themselves, and their employees, to meet those standards. Pragmatists are driven, competitive, and they value hitting their goals above all else. They can be bold thinkers, unafraid of taking the road less travelled (even when others struggle or feel anxious). They are also harddriving and often enjoy smashing through obstacles. Working for Pragmatists can be difficult but rewarding. The job is not for the feintofheart or thinskinned, but the opportunities to learn and become expert under the Pragmatists tutelage are secondtonone. The job can sometimes feel like an apprenticeship to a master artist or professor. This offers the potential for exceptional intellectual growth, but also for burnout and criticism. Its a great situation for the right individuals, but employees who work for Pragmatists may find that bottomline results can sometimes outpace softer measures like employee engagement. The Pragmatist style is the least common of all the leadership styles, accounting for around 812% of American leaders. But, its interesting to note that toplevel executives have a higher percentage of Pragmatists than other groups, like Managers, Directors and Vice Presidents. Based on my observations, I consider Franklin , Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) and Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo) to be Pragmatists. The Idealist Idealists are high energy achievers who believe in the positive potential of everyone around them. Idealists want to learn and grow, and they want everyone else on the team to do the same. Theyre often charismatic, drawing others to them with their intuition and idealism. Theyre openminded and prize creativity from themselves and others. Working for Idealists offers the chance to be creative and to express oneself. Employees find they have an equal voice and that they learn by doing. Working for the Idealist often provides a very democratic experience. There isnt as much process and structure as with some other leaders (like Stewards), and that can be a plus or minus depending on the employee. Idealist leaders are often found doing creative work, brainstorming around a table with likeminded individuals. For the appropriate people, working for the Idealist is a great situation. The Idealist leadership style accounts for about 1520% of American leaders. And based on my observations, famous Idealists include Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos) and Meg Whitman (CEO of HewlettPackard). The Steward Stewards are the rocks of organizations. Theyre dependable, loyal and helpful, and they provide a stabilizing and calming force for their employees. Stewards value rules, process and cooperation. They believe that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and they move only as fast as the whole chain will allow, taking care and time to help those who struggle to keep up. Working for Stewards offers the chance to be part of a welloiled machine. Here, employees find security, consistency and cohesion. The job may not offer great opportunities for individual glory or an adrenaline rush, but it does provide great opportunities for team success. Stewards can often be found in missioncritical areas of the organization and they are often reliedupon by leaders in other divisions. For the appropriate people, working for the Steward is a great situation. Similar to the Idealist, the Steward leadership style accounts for about 1520% of American leaders. And based on my observations, famous Stewards include George Washington, Mother Teresa and Ginni Rometty (CEO of IBM). The Diplomat Diplomats prize interpersonal harmony. They are the social glue and affiliative force that keeps groups together. Diplomats are kind, social, and giving, and typically build deep personal bonds with their employees. Theyre often known for being able to resolve conflicts peacefully (and for avoiding conflicts in the first place). Working for Diplomats is often more fun and social than working for other leaders (especially the Pragmatists). Diplomats put less emphasis on challenging their employees, focusing instead on putting their people in positions that leverage their strengths in order to achieve success. Diplomats work to avoid having people feel uncomfortable or anxious. Traditional measures of employee satisfaction are often very high for Diplomats. For the appropriate people, working for the Diplomat is a great situation. The Diplomat is the most common of all the leadership styles, accounting for around 5060% of American leaders. And its interesting to note that, unlike the Pragmatists, toplevel executives have a lower percentage of Diplomats than other groups, like Managers, Directors and Vice Presidents. Based on my observations, Mohandas Gandhi and Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) would be examples of Diplomats. Conclusion So, whats your leadership style? Do you feel okay about that? As I said at the beginning, leaders of every style can be effective or ineffective (or great or terrible). And some styles work better with different groups of people and in different situations (something Ill be writing about in an upcoming Forbes article). But for now, its important just to understand your own style. Once youve got this knowledge, then you can start thinking about how to leverage your style to achieve even greater results.Show more
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